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Pakistan back on top of the world with a hockey gold at Mexico
Friday, June 20, 2008
by Gul Hameed Bhatti
Pakistan took the Olympic Games hockey gold medal for the second time since claiming their first, at Rome in 1960, after having been restricted to a second place by arch-rivals India in the final at Tokyo four years later. With a team including as many as 12 newcomers, players appearing in their first Olympiad out of a squad of 18, the Pakistanis remained unbeaten throughout and didn't even have to meet India in the final at Mexico City in 1968.

They had a new captain in the left full-back Tariq Aziz, who was preferred over the outside-right Khalid Mahmood for the job, and the team in fact turned out to be one of the strongest outfits ever sent by the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to the Olympic Games. The team management leadership too shifted from the ever-present Ali Iqtidar Shah Dara to Manzoor Hussain Atif, now having been promoted to the post of Brigadier in the Pakistan Army.

Pakistan defeated Australia by a 2-1 margin in the final at Mexico to win gold. Australia, who finally became Olympic Games hockey champions at Athens in 2004, were an emerging force in the sport about four decades ago. At Tokyo 1964, they had taken their first bronze medal, with India taking their seventh gold and Pakistan the silver medal.

For the first time since 1928, when they went on a spree of six successive gold medal triumphs in Olympic Games hockey, India did not make the final. They did pick up a bronze medal though, incidentally their first, after they defeated West Germany 2-1 in the match to decide the third and fourth places.

Khawaja Tariq Aziz had had a chequered career before the 1968 Olympics, remaining in and out of the team on a few occasions, but he did play in the Tokyo Olympiad of 1964. For five years, he had been an understudy to the great Atif who believed in the young man to lead the country to another gold victory. And he did.

Tariq Aziz had done his MSc in animal husbandry from his native Lyallpur (now known as Faisalabad) and then joined the teaching faculty at the West Pakistan Agriculture University. But it was as a hockey player and captain that he brought his country one of its highest achievements.


In his chronicle of Pakistan hockey titled 'Going for Gold', noted Australian hockey historian and journalist Sydney Friskin wrote: "In the rarefied atmosphere of the 7,300 feet Mexico City plateau, the hopes and aspirations of several teams vanished into thin air in 1968. Nevertheless, it did elevate Pakistan to the top position once more in Olympic hockey. Brigadier (he was in fact promoted from Lieutenant Colonel during the earlier East African tour) Manzoor Hussain Atif was both manager and coach and Tariq Aziz took over as captain.

"In an energy-sapping tournament, sixteen teams were put to work with Pakistan winning all seven pool matches but not by convincing margins. The match against Australia, marred by rough play and sub-standard umpiring, was won 3-2 by Pakistan. Earlier, Pakistan had beaten Holland 6-0 with Abdul Rasheed scoring three goals, but the 2-1 victory over Great Britain was hard earned. So, too, was the success over Kenya by the same margin.

"Indeed Pakistan had to push up the work rate for the 1-0 victory over West Germany. The final reward was a brilliant goal by Khalid Mahmood. In the other semifinal, Australia battled to beat India 2-1 after extra time and set up a meeting with Pakistan.

"The Australians, who had survived a somewhat hazardous journey into the final, were at first overcome by Pakistan's stickwork and acceleration but later emphasised their fighting spirit. After fifteen minutes, Pakistan gained ascendancy and Abdul Rasheed put a strong shot past the goalkeeper Paul Dearing to establish a 1-0 lead, which was neutralised midway in the second half when Brian Glencross scored from a penalty corner.

"However, in the 56th minute, the inside-left Asad Malik scored the deciding goal to put the gold medal back in Pakistan's hands. India seized the bronze medal with a 2-1 victory over West Germany."


An inspired selection in the Pakistan team was that of the goalkeeper Zakir Hussain, now 34 years old. Twelve years ago, he had appeared in his only other Olympic Games at Melbourne, where Pakistan lost to India in the final but earned their first silver medal. Zakir was excellent at Mexico, letting only five goals go past him in his team's nine matches.

Atif was now the team manager and coach after having appeared in four consecutive Olympic Games since Helsinki 1952. He was captain at Tokyo 1964, where Pakistan only managed a silver medal after the final against India.

The six players who were taking part in their second successive Olympiad were skipper Tariq Aziz himself, in addition to his vice-captain Asad Malik, goalkeeper Zakir Hussain, right-half Saeed Anwar, outside-right Khalid Mahmood and centre-forward Tariq Niazi.

Two players continued their respective families' legacy in hockey at the Olympic Games. Inside-right Abdul Rasheed, commonly known as Rasheed Junior, was a younger brother of former Pakistan captain Abdul Hameed 'Hameedi', who was himself an inside-right and appeared in four Olympic Games.

Hameedi led Pakistan to the silver medal at Melbourne 1956 and at Tokyo 1958 earned the nation its first Asian Games hockey gold medal. At Rome 1960, he finally stood at the top of the victory stand with Pakistan's first gold medal in an Olympiad.

Rasheed Junior was the top-scorer for Pakistan at Mexico with seven goals. Close on his heels was right full-back Tanvir Dar with six goals of his own. The now deceased Tanvir was a younger brother of another celebrated right full-back Munir Ahmed Dar, who from 1956 to 1964 represented Pakistan in three Olympic Games.

After their second successive gold medal at the Asian Games, at Jakarta in 1962, Munir Dar led Pakistan at the Bangkok Asiad in 1966. India beat them in the final by a 1-0 margin. Before the Mexico Olympiad, first Khalid Mahmood captained Pakistan -- at the London Pre-Olympic Tournament in October 1967 as well as in all matches throughout the year and then Tariq Aziz led the team to the International Festival in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 1968.

The Pakistan line-up for the Mexico Olympic Games hockey event was: Tariq Aziz (captain), Asad Malik (vice-captain), Zakir Hussain, Tanvir Dar, Saeed Anwar, Riaz Ahmed, Gulraiz Akhtar, Khalid Mahmood, Mohammad Ashfaq, Abdul Rasheed Jr, Jahangir Butt, Riazuddin, Tariq Niazi, Fazalur Rehman, Laeeq Ahmed, Farooq Khan, Qazi Salahuddin and Anwar Shah. The last five listed were not chosen for any playing elevens though.



The Pakistan contingent at Mexico 1968 was the smallest ever sent by the country to an Olympic Games event. Apart from the 18 hockey players, there were only two wrestlers in addition. It was decided against picking any representatives in athletics, boxing, cycling, shooting, swimming and weightlifting after the continuous poor results shown in these disciplines in previous Olympiads.

Hockey brought a gold medal and the two wrestlers in fact fought their hearts out without acquiring the required results. The reign of men like Mohammad Bashir -- who won Pakistan a bronze medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960, Mohammad Akhtar and Faiz Mohammad was almost over and the selectors' nod went for Sardar Mohammad and Taj Mohammad.

Both wrestlers really had a poor draw. Sardar lost his first round bantamweight fight to USA's Donald Behm, who eventually took the silver medal. In the third round, he came up against Abutaleb Gorgori of Iran, who was the bronze medal winner.

Taj Mohammad was hardly ever heard of after the Mexico Olympics. He had become Pakistan's lightweight champion at Dacca (Dhaka) in early 1968 but bowed out at the Olympiad in the third round to Bulgaria's Valtchev Enio, who went on to take the silver medal.

Sardar had won the bronze medal at the Arya Mehr Cup in Tehran, Iran, in 1967 and then gave a good account of himself on the Pakistan tour of the Soviet Union the same year. After Mexico, he won a gold medal at Edinburgh's Commonwealth Games in 1970 and a bronze at the Asian Games in Bangkok, also in 1970.


The choice of Mexico City to host the 1968 Olympics was a controversial one because of the city's high altitude, 2,240m, which meant that the air contained 30% less oxygen than at sea level. Sure enough, the rarefied air proved disastrous to many athletes competing in endurance events. On the other hand, the high altitude led to world records in all of the men's races that were 400m or shorter, including both relays, and in the 400m hurdles, in the long jump and triple jump as well.

Bob Beamon's spectacular long jump of 8.90m would last as a world record for 22 years. It was broken on August 30, 1991 when Mike Powell, also of the United States like Beamon, achieved a long jump of 8.95 metres or 29 feet 4.4 inches. However, Beamon's record still stands as the highest mark in the Olympic Games, even after 40 years have gone by.

The Mexico City Olympics, the first Summer Games to include sex testing for women, were blessed with many outstanding heroines. Mexican hurdler Enriqueta Basilio became the first woman to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony. Eulalia Rolinska of Poland, Gladys de Seminario of Peru and Nuria Ortiz of Mexico were the first women to compete in shooting. Wyomia Tyus of the United States became the first repeat winner of the 100m dash.

The most popular female athlete of the 1968 Games was Vera Caslavska, the Czech gymnast. After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia two months before the Olympics, Caslavska went into hiding for three weeks. She emerged to win four gold medals and two silvers.

On the male side, Al Oerter of the United States won the discus throw for the fourth time. The 1968 Games also saw the first drug disqualification, as a Swedish entrant in the modern pentathlon, Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, tested positive... for excessive alcohol.

The Olympiad in Mexico was participated by as many as 112 nations. There were 5,516 athletes in all, 781 women and 4,735 men, who took part in 172 events in 20 different sports.

The 1968 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XIX Olympiad, were celebrated after Mexico City had beaten out bids from Detroit, Buenos Aires and Lyon to host the Games in 1963.

The Games were preceded by the Tlatelolco massacre, in which hundreds of students were killed by security forces ten days before the opening day. It is the only Games ever held in Latin America, and it was the second ever outside of Europe, Australia, or the USA.

The high altitude of Mexico City (2,240m) made it difficult for many endurance athletes to adapt to the oxygen-deprived air. The high altitude was also credited with contributing to many record setting jumps and leaps in the long jump, high jump and pole vault events.

For the first time, athletes from East and West Germany were members of separate teams, after having competed in a combined team in 1964.

In the triple jump, the previous world record was improved five times by three different athletes.

Dick Fosbury won the gold medal in the high jump using the radical Fosbury flop technique, which quickly became the dominant technique in the event.

In the 200m medal award ceremony, two African-American athletes Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) raised their black-gloved fists as a symbol of Black Power. As punishment, the International Olympic Committee banned them from the Olympic Games for life.

After winning the gold medal for heavyweight boxing, George Foreman walked around the ring with a tiny American flag, bowing several times to the audience.

It was the first games at which there was a significant African presence in men's distance running. Africans won medals in all events from 800m to the marathon and in so doing set a trend for future games.

United States topped the medals table with a total of 107, that included 45 gold, 28 silver and 34 bronze. Soviet Union were second with a tally of 91, that comprised 29 gold, 32 silver and 30 bronze. Japan were placed third with 11 gold medals in a total of 25.

The other nations in the top ten were: Hungary 32 (10-10-12), East Germany 25 (9-9-7), France 15 (7-3-5), Czechoslovakia 13 (7-2-4), West Germany 26 (5-11-10), Australia 17 (5-7-5) and Great Britain 13 (5-5-3). Hosts Mexico won three of each colour of medals.

NEXT WEEK: Pakistan at 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.



Group B: Pakistan beat Holland 6-0 (half-time 3-0), beat France 1-0 (h-t 0-0), beat Australia 3-2 (h-t Australia 2-1), beat Argentina 5-0 (h-t 4-0), beat Great Britain 2-1 (h-t 1-0), beat Malaysia 4-0 (h-t 1-0), beat Kenya 2-1 (h-t 2-0). Pakistan topped Group B 7 played, 7 won, GF 23, GA 4, points 14. Semifinals Pakistan beat West Germany 1-0 in overtime (h-t 0-0). Final Pakistan beat Australia 2-1 (h-t 1-0). Pakistan won the gold medal


Bantamweight (up to 57kg): 1st round Sardar Mohammad lost to Donald Behm (USA), 2nd round beat Sukhbastar Bazaryn (Mongolia), 3rd round lost to Abutaleb Gorgori (Iran)

Lightweight (up to 70kg): 1st round Taj Mohammad beat Stefanos Ioannidis (Greece), 2nd round lost to Seyit Agrali (Turkey), 3rd round lost to Valtchev Enio (Bulgaria) TKO .

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